PittPharmacy Associate Professor Joshua Thorpe, PhD, MPH is the recipient of the 2017 VA Best Research Paper of the Year Award, which honors an exceptional piece of high quality research making a major contribution to improving the quality of care to our nation’s Veterans and to the field of health services research.

Published in Annals of Internal Medicine, Thorpe’s article “Dual Health Care System Use and High-Risk Prescribing in Patients with Dementia” was chosen for several reasons, including its potential to be impactful both inside and outside VA. David Gifford, MD, MPH, wrote an accompanying editorial, noting, “On the surface, the study by Thorpe and colleagues seems to be only about medication prescribing for dementia in the VA system, but it could serve as the basis for an entire medial school course on health policy.”

Thorpe and colleagues used VA and Medicare data to identify nearly 76,000 Veterans with dementia who were enrolled in both healthcare systems from 2007 through 2010. They found that compared with VA-users only, Veterans who used both VA and Medicare (dual-users) had more than double the odds of exposure to potentially unsafe medication, demonstrating that receipt of prescription medications across unconnected care systems increase the risk for unsafe prescribing.

Based on the high impact of this article, senior VA leaders in Geriatrics and Extended Care, Pharmacy Benefits Management (PBM), and the Center for Medication Safety (VA MedSAFE) engaged Thorpe to fast-track implementation of new approaches to reduce the risk for potentially unsafe prescribing for Veterans.

Associate Professor Thorpe is also a Health Scientist in the VA’s Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Other key contributors to this work from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy include Associate Professors Carolyn Thorpe, PhD, MPH, Sherrie Aspinall, PharmD, MSc, BCPS and PhD Candidate Loren Schleiden.

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